Sep 23rd, 2019

Native Plants of the James River: Native Art

Experience native wildflowers and plants in a new way by visiting the Lora M. Robins Library at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden during the month of October for a special show: Ancarrow’s List: Native Plants at the River’s Edge. Discover the color, form, beauty, and science of botanical art in this juried art exhibition featuring botanical artists from Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina.

Virginia Bluebell illustration by artist Margaret Farr

Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebell) illustrated by artist Margaret Farr

Ancarrow’s List: Native Plants at the River’s Edge is sponsored by the Plants of the James River Project (PJRP), a local group of botanical artists who honor the legacy of Newton Ancarrow, a local environmentalist and wildflower photographer who is widely credited with spurring the clean-up of the James River in the early 1970s.  His slides, notes, and other artifacts are archived in the Lora M. Robins Library — over 400 of these materials have been digitized and preserved in partnership with VCU Libraries and the Rice Rivers Center.

Botanical art blends both the science and beauty of the natural world.  Traditional botanical art has aesthetic appeal but is also botanically accurate.  Artists participating in this show were inspired by Newton Ancarrow’s photographs but drew from live plant specimens.

Participating artists are:

  • Joseph Bailey
  • Claudette Baker
  • Stephey Baker
  • Elena Maza Borkland
  • Hazel Buys
  • Wei-Ting Chi
  • Anne Clippinger
  • Karen Coleman
  • Wendy Cortesi
  • Bonnie Driggers
  • Lee D’Zmura
  • Mary Elcano
  • Margaret Farr
  • Betty Gatewood
  • Gail Goodrich Harwood
  • Jane Shemin Irish
  • Jamie Kim
  • Juliet Kirby
  • Mary Knierim
  • Lizzie Mccowan
  • Jonathan Paul
  • Dale Pittard
  • Diane Rainey
  • Maryann Roper
  • Ruta Schuller
  • Judith Towers

    Native plant illustrations drawn by Betsy Lyon.

    Native plants including Lonicera sempervirens (Coral honeysuckle) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan) are featured in this illustration by artist Betsy Lyon.

  • * Judy Thomas – Co-founder and Chair of PJRP
  • * Paula Blair – Co-founder and Treasurer of PJRP
  • * Cheryl Exley – Secretary of PJRP
  • * Betsy Lyon – Member-at-Large PJRP
  • * Lara Call Gastinger – Guest Juror, chief illustrator for the Flora of Virginia Project and a two-time gold medalist at the Royal Horticultural Society Botanical Art Shows in London (2007, 2018)

We had many entries, and the jurying was difficult. We would like to thank Lara Call Gastinger for joining us on the jury. Her knowledge of both botany and botanical illustration was invaluable. All artists who submitted work are active members in the American Society of Botanical Artists and their local chapter or circle in the Mid-Atlantic region. Selected artists represent the Central Virginia Botanical Artists, the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region and the North Carolina Botanical Artists’ Circle.

Join us at our opening reception that will be held Wednesday, October 9, 2019,  from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Lora Robins Library with a lecture at 5 p.m. in the Kelly Education Center.  The talk and reception are free and open to all.  Catalogs from the show will be available at the reception for a $20 donation. A limited number of coloring books that were produced by the PJRP will also be available for a $5 donation.  The coloring books feature illustrations of both native and invasive plants. We hope to see you there!

About Paula Blair

Paula Blair, co-founder and treasurer of the Plants of the James River Project, received her Certificate in Botanical Illustration from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists and the Botanical Art Society of the National Capital Region, where she serves as co-editor of the newsletter. Her work has been included in several regional exhibitions of botanical art, and she has participated in ASBA exhibits in Miami and San Francisco. She won "Best Artwork in Show" at the Virginia Orchid Society's annual show for her painting, "Dendrobium Orchid."

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